What Do You Say When You Talk To Yourself?

by Linda P. Kester 2014

Changing your thought process and definition of success can be simple, positive and fun – and inspire you to reboot your self-image. Linda P. Kester provides tips for conquering negativity and creating a new belief system.

Has there ever been a time where you were stuck in one of those mental “loops” — where you kept playing the same thought over and over in your head, like a bad song? For example, let’s say you dislike prospecting and before you pick up the phone you think, “This sucks.” You tell yourself, “I’m not good at this. Why should I even bother? I know I sound like an idiot.”

Unfortunately, a lot of sales people talk to themselves this way. They don’t realize that their self-talk affects their attitude, actions and results.

Let’s take a look at two inexperienced leasing sales reps. Bob is a recent college graduate, young, athletic and competitive. Sue is a single mom, hardworking and driven. On paper both look like great candidates for success. As soon as they begin prospecting, Bob starts to mentally beat himself up. “I don’t like this. I’m not getting results fast enough. My leads are terrible.” On the other side, Sue says to herself; “I’m grateful for this job. I don’t have to work nights or weekends. The benefits are terrific, and I know I’m taking the right steps every day to get closer to my goals.”

Bob is very hard on himself and often puts himself down. While he’d never dream of talking this way to anyone else, he thinks it’s perfectly normal to talk to himself negatively. Sue is nicer to herself. She keeps thinking about what she wants. Bob keeps thinking about how bad it is. He tells himself, “This is uncomfortable, undignified and embarrassing. It’s hopeless and I can’t stand it.” Sue says, “There is no reason to get upset. I’ll take it easy and I’ll probably do just fine.” The difference in attitude is obvious. Sue has a much greater chance of success because of her positive outlook.

Self-talk, for a large number of salespeople, consists of telling themselves all the things they think are wrong. They often repeat such statements as, “This stinks,” “I sound like a fool,” “I always manage to put my foot in my mouth,” and other self-defeating phrases.

Negative self-talk can lead to negative sales. Self-fulfilling prophecies are quite common; you start believing your own thoughts and you achieve those results. Fortunately, the opposite of this is also true. Positive self-talk will tend to generate desirable outcomes and generate good feelings. If you constantly tell yourself positive things and have a more optimistic viewpoint, then you’ll be able to bring about self-fulfilling prophecies with desirable results. Also, your chances of connecting with a prospect increase.

The examples of Bob and Sue are an oversimplification of the thought process. We are all multi-dimensional beings. Bob was most likely not always 100% negative, and Sue was not above the occasional complaint. The point is to be aware of your predominate thoughts.

Questions to Ask

How do you stop the negative self-talk? The first step is to become aware of your thinking. When you catch yourself thinking “prospecting stinks,” STOP and remember your past successes, or times you’ve done really well, or times you’ve overcome obstacles. Just as you felt good then, you can feel good now. So remember when you hear those negative little monsters talking, simply challenge yourself with these questions:

  • Are my thoughts factual, or are they just my interpretations?
  • Am I jumping to negative conclusions?
  • If I were being positive, how would I perceive this situation?
  • Is this situation as bad as I am making it out to be?
  • What is the worst thing that could happen? How likely is it?
  • What is the best thing that could happen?
  • What is most likely to happen?
  • Is there something I can learn from this situation to help me do it better next time?
Actions to Take

The following are eleven actions to take to get your mind back into the game:

1. Don’t focus on past failures – there is no point in doing so. See mistakes as learning experiences for growth and understanding. Professional leasing salespeople learn from their mistakes instead of telling themselves they’re stupid for making them.
2. Take responsibility. I call this the Andy Reid technique. Whenever his football team loses, he doesn’t put any blame on the players, he puts the blame on himself. Maybe you asked too much, too soon. Maybe you didn’t break the prospects per-occupation. Maybe you didn’t set an objective. Take responsibility for your action in an empowering way. Then focus on being more prepared for the next call.
3. Get determined. If someone else tells you that you can’t do something and you disagree, use that feeling to fuel your motivation and do whatever it takes to prove that person wrong. Do whatever you can to shake off negative thinking, even if it means getting a little angry or competitive.
4. Interrupt the loop. When you just can’t stop ruminating, close your eyes and call up a visual image of stopping the negative thought in its tracks. Visualize a big radio dial, and imagine reaching out and switching it off. You can even put your hand in front of you and push the off button.
5. Imagine writing down your negative thoughts about prospecting and stuffing them in a bag, scrunching it up and throwing it off a cliff.
6. Make a list of things you are grateful for. This always succeeds in changing my mindset. I use the “Notes” app on my phone and I list all the things that I love and that I’m thankful for. This never fails to make me feel better.
7. Do a mental mathematical problem: Figure out how many applications you need on a daily basis to reach your volume goal. Take your approval rate, your average deal size and your booking rate and figure out how many apps a day you need to receive to reach your volume and income goals. Working with numbers breaks a mental loop.
8. Focus on your breathing. You can reset your internal clock and feel much better by just taking a deep inhale and then pausing for a second before exhaling. This small gap in your breathing brings you back into the present moment. When you are focusing only on the present moment you realize that everything is okay. You quiet your mind and that stops the negative self talk.
9. Use goal-directed thinking. First set a goal (e.g., I will make 50 calls today) and make a plan for how to get there. Then enact a plan to the best of your ability. Next comes self-reflection: You carefully evaluate what you’ve done and adjust your plan for the next time. I tell my reps to think of three positive thoughts to use while prospecting such as, “I will gain their attention,” “I will be confident” and “I will listen to understand.”
10. Accept that this is what you have to do. Acceptance means: For now, this is what my job requires me to do and I do it willingly. For example, you may not be able to enjoy making 50 dials a day, let alone be enthusiastic about it, but you can bring acceptance to it. Prospecting in the state of acceptance means you are at peace while you do it.
11. Visualize the outcome. Visualization is a key component in your ultimate success. By visualizing what you want first and then creating affirmations or self-talk to go along with your vision of your future, you set yourself up for victory. See yourself doing things that make you feel incredible. Imagine being on the phone with a prospect and being completely charming. Notice the amazing people that you attract with your winning personality and see the smiles on the faces of your loved ones when you tell them your surpassed your goals.

If you change your thinking, and view of prospecting in a positive way, you’ll find that it really can be simple, easy and fun.

Revise your definition of what cold calling is really all about. Prospecting is simply the process of proactively introducing yourself to people who have a likelihood of being interested in equipment leasing, finding out what their needs are and positioning yourself as a valuable resource.

Think about it: If prospects have a likelihood of using your financing services — either now or sometime in the future — wouldn’t they want to hear from you? Of course they would, especially if you provide pertinent information when you reach out to them.

Our vendors and lessees have needs. We have solutions to those needs. Leasing is easy and convenient; it solves lots of problems and helps companies get the equipment they need to grow their businesses. We offer a very important service. Once you look at it this way and fall in love with leasing, you can’t help but transfer your love or enthusiasm over to the prospect.

See yourself as professional problem-solver. Change your mindset about prospecting. I encourage you to use these tips as an opportunity to start over. Create a new pattern of thoughts and you will create a new belief system in yourself.

Linda P. Kester is a bestselling author and professional speaker with 20 years of experience in leasing sales and marketing management. As founder of the Institute of Personal Development, Kester has helped hundreds of salespeople increase their volume. Her book, 366 Marketing Tips for Equipment Leasing, has produced results for leasing companies in the U.S., United Kingdom and Australia. For more information, visit www.lindakester.com.

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